A group which claims to have hacked Sony’s servers demanded on Monday (8th Dec) that its movie studio pull a soon-to-be-released comedy depicting a fictional CIA plot to kill North Korea’s leader, reports said, which has led more people to believe that North Korea was behind the unlawful intrusion. But on Sunday (7th Dec), North Korea denied involvement in the brazen cyber attack on Sony Pictures. They did, however, praise it as a “righteous deed” potentially orchestrated by supporters furious.
Mashable was one of the first few media outlets to pick up on the news of the initial hack. On 25th Nov, the site reported that Sony Pictures Entertainment’s computer network has been breached in a hack that reportedly forced the company to completely shut its systems. An image appeared on all of Sony Pictures’ computer screens, saying that the system has been hacked by #GOP, which stands for hacker group “Guardians of Peace”.
— Keaton Savage (@keatonsavage) November 24, 2014
As result of the monumental hack, at least 5 new movies from Sony Pictures are being devoured on copyright-infringing file-sharing hubs online. Copies of DVD screeners of 4 unreleased Sony movies including the upcoming “Annie” are getting some unwelcome early exposure.
But nothing compared with the frenzy enveloping “Fury”, which stars Hollywood heartthrob Brad Pitt.
“Fury” has been downloaded by over 888,000 unique IP addresses since showing up on peer-to-peer networks on 27th Nov, according to piracy-tracking firm Excipio. That’s high enough to be the second most-downloaded movie currently being pirated, and it’s not out of movie theatres yet. Another big Sony movie, “Annie,” is also being pirated 3 weeks ahead of its own wide release.
Other Sony movies being downloaded include “Mr. Turner,” “Still Alice” and “To Write Love on Her Arms”.
The hackers also sent out an e-mail threatening the employees of the Sony Pictures studio:
The full e-mail states:
I am the head of GOP who made you worry.
Removing Sony Pictures on earth is a very tiny work for our group which is a worldwide organization. And what we have done so far is only a small part of our further plan. It’s your false if you think this crisis will be over after some time. All hope will leave you and Sony Pictures will collapse. This situation is only due to Sony Pictures. Sony Pictures is responsible for whatever the result is. Sony Pictures clings to what is good to nobody from the beginning. It’s silly to expect in Sony Pictures to take off us. Sony Pictures makes only useless efforts. One beside you can be our member.
Many things beyond imagination will happen at many places of the world. Our agents find themselves act in necessary places. Please sign your name to object the false of the company at the email address below if you don’t want to suffer damage. If you don’t, not only you but your family will be in danger.
Nobody can prevent us, but the only way is to follow our demand. If you want to prevent us, make your company behave wisely.
After which, in a newer message dated Monday (8th Dec), as cited by entertainment journal Variety and the Wall Street Journal, the #GOP said:
We have already given our clear demand to the management team of Sony. However, they have refused to accept. It seems that you think everything will be well, if you find out the attacker, while no reacting to our demand. We are sending you our warning again. Do carry out our demand if you want to escape us. And, Stop immediately showing the movie of terrorism which can break the regional peace and cause the War!
The “movie of terrorism” that the GOP wants stopped (from release) is “The Interview”, which stars Seth Rogen and James Franco as 2 journalists recruited by the CIA to assassinate Kim Jong-un. It recently infuriated Pyongyang, which earlier warned of “merciless retaliation” against what it called a “wanton act of terror”. “The Interview” is due for release in the US on 25th Dec.
Watch the trailer here:
Meanwhile, according to Variety, Sony Pictures has warned employees to not connect to corporate networks or access their email. The company has been working with law enforcement officials, including the FBI, to investigate the cause of the data breach and has hired security firm FireEye and its Mandiant unit to look into the incident. It has also been estimated that the issue might take anywhere from one day to 3 weeks to be resolved.
More to come at the story unfolds.